iiNet, Comms Alliance see positives in Dallas Buyers Club ruling

ISP and industry body cite court oversight of letters to be sent to alleged pirates

iiNet has greeted a court ruling today as a “positive result” that will ensure the rights of its customers are protected.

iiNet, along with a number of other ISPs, failed to derail a motion for preliminary discovery by Dallas Buyers Club LLC, the rights owners of the 2013 movie Dallas Buyers Club.

DBC LLC is seeking the personal details of ISP customers it says may have used BitTorrent to illicitly download its movie.

In other countries lawyers acting on behalf of DBC LLC's parent company, Voltage Pictures, have sent letters to ISP customers warning of costly piracy lawsuits.

“The result is pleasingly what we expected,” said iiNet CEO David Buckingham.

“By going through the process we’ve been able to ensure that our customers will be treated fairly and won’t be subjected to the bullying that we have seen happen elsewhere.”

Although Justice Nye Perram allowed DBC’s motion, he attached a number of conditions, including that the Federal Court examines any letter that DBC sends to alleged downloaders in order to prevent 'speculative invoicing'.

“Letters issued by the rights holders will be reviewed by the judge to ensure they are not threatening — providing a significant safeguard for our customers. As a result, the ruling will put a major dent in the process and business case behind speculative invoicing, since the financial returns could be outweighed by the costs of legal action,” Buckingham said.

“We have worked closely with the Communications Alliance at the request of the federal government, to develop a code to educate people to the alternatives to piracy while protecting the privacy of our customers,” Buckingham said.

“There is good news that has come out of the judgement,” said John Stanton, the CEO of telco industry body Communications Alliance, citing the conditions imposed on discovery, particularly the court’s oversight of any letters to be sent to ISP customers.

“That’s a significant safeguard for consumers,” said Stanton.

The conditions imposed in the ruling justified the decision of ISPs to challenge DBC’s application in court, he added.

The ruling wouldn’t undermine the industry-developed code for dealing with copyright infringement, he said. The code is currently in draft form.

“Rights holders have always had the right to go direct to court to seek discovery,” the CEO said.

Rights holders may choose to bypass the code, the draft of which includes a mechanism for expedited preliminary discovery, he said.

“But the code much more of course in terms of education and putting information in the hands of consumers,” he added.

“I don’t think the two are in conflict.”

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